We have all heard the phrase ‘money well spent’. It’s a phrase that speaks for itself and one that we would all like to think applies to our investments or expenditure. However, more and more we hear of occasions where money has been ‘not so well spent’. This is especially the case when it comes to grants that are given to various bodies or organisations. We are left wondering whether some folk are in the ‘real world’.
Take, for example, the grant given to a group of musicians in Bristol. Stringing sensors under a 100-year-old tree, the musicians planned to capture the sound of falling beechnuts in a £37,000 art project. The idea was that the beech tree would drop its fruit onto numerous sensors and that would trigger noises, which would in turn be transformed into a musical composition. There was just one problem – there were no nuts on this particular beech tree! A fact that only came to the attention of the musicians after they had rigged up their elaborate web of sensors underneath the tree. Unfortunately, the beautiful tree they had chosen was a bi-annual fruiting tree and yes, you’ve guessed it, they chose the wrong year. What a waste – all because a tree did not bear fruit.
In this case, it was not the tree’s fault. It was doing what it naturally did and next year it will no doubt produce an abundance of beechnuts in accordance with its life circle. The project failed not because the tree didn’t produce fruit, but because the musicians didn’t understand the nature of the fruit producer. Throughout life I’ve often retrospectively asked myself why a certain period of time has not been as fruitful as I would have liked. My work for God has not resulted in people coming to know God as their Saviour; my efforts to help people become better disciples have not seemed to have any effect. On some of these occasions, fruit might have been forthcoming if I had taken time to have a better understanding of the individuals concerned and their nature before producing a plan of action to help them. If there is one thing I have learned down the years it is that fruit best comes when you understand and value the one you expect to produce the fruit. When we build up a trusting relationship with someone, seek to understand them and value them, then with our help they are more likely to see the fruitful living God created them to produce.
This harvest time our territorial theme for the year encourages us to look fruitfully into our community and ourselves. We do that best when we seek to understand those we serve and come alongside. In such a diverse community as ours that seems an enormous task. With God’s guidance it is possible and with his leading we can help each other to live fruitful lives!